Based on narrative, iconographical, and liturgical sources, this is the first systematic study to trace the story of the ritual of royal self-coronations from Ancient Persia to the present. Exposing as myth the idea that Napoleon's act of self-coronation in 1804 was the first extraordinary event to break the secular tradition of kings being crowned by bishops, Jaume Aurell vividly demonstrates that self-coronations were not as transgressive or unconventional as has been imagined. Drawing on numerous examples of royal self-coronations, with a particular focus on European Kings of the Middle Ages, including Frederic II of Germany (1229), Alphonse XI of Castile (1328), Peter IV of Aragon (1332) and Charles III of Navarra (1390), Aurell draws on history, anthropology, ritual studies, liturgy and art history to explore royal self-coronations as privileged sites at which the frontiers and limits between the temporal and spiritual, politics and religion, tradition and innovation are encountered.
Introduction; 1. Self-coronation as ritual; I. Heritage; 2. Consecration without mediation in antiquity; 3. The hand of God; 4. Symbolic self-coronations in Byzantium; 5. The sacralisation of Carolingian accessions; 6. Anglo-Saxon and Ottonian christocentrism; II. Infamy; 7. Roger II of Sicily: Imagining self-coronation; 8. Frederick II of Germany: desacralising rituals; III. Convention; 9. Alfonso XI of Castile: From self-knighting to self-crowning; 10. Peter IV of Aragon's self-coronation: A conventionalization program; 11. Charles III of Navarra: juridical implications of self-coronations; 12. Early modern dramatization: the road to Napoleon; Conclusion.
Jaume Aurell is Professor of Medieval History at the University of Navarra, Spain. His previous publications include Authoring the Past (2012), Theoretical Perspectives on Historians' Autobiographies (2015) and, as editor, Rethinking Historical Genres in the Twenty-First Century (2017).
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